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Leucine Reduces Muscle Loss During Bed Rest

Recovering from a serious illness or operation often requires people to stay on bed rest during an extended period of time. Bed rest can lead to loss of muscle mass that inhibits further recovery, but a recent study suggests that taking supplements of a metabolite of leucine called HMB may help maintain muscle mass for those who are bedridden.

The study included 24 participants with an average age of 67. Starting five days prior to and continuing throughout the 10 day scheduled bed rest, half of the group took a placebo while the other half took a supplement of 1.5 g HMG, 4 g maltodextrin, and 200 mg calcium.

At the conclusion of the study, the supplement group had not lost any muscle mass, while the placebo group showed a loss of 4.4 lbs.

The study was conducted by researchers at the University of Arkansas. It was published online ahead of print on March 4, 2013, in Clinical Nutrition.

Leucine is an essential amino acid that cannot be manufactured in the body. It helps protein molecules form, creates new muscle, and helps with the regulation of blood sugar levels. Foods rich in leucine include soybeans, lentils, beef, peanuts, salmon, eggs and milk.

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